I passed my Red Crescent test - got issued a shiny new ID card and I'll start at the ambulance station next week.
I had to travel to the Red Crescent headquarters in Ramallah. I took the Palestinian service to get there (it travels only through Palestinian areas) and for kicks I decided to take the regular bus service back (which cuts through Jerusalem). Big mistake - it took me three times as long to get home! The checkpoint really delayed things - there was an elderly woman on the bus who forgot her papers. She had her 6 or 7 year-old grandson with her - a young IDF soldier boarded the bus and demanded papers. It was really surreal, he had Tavor assault rifle that was almost as big as he was - he looked right at me and said, "Papers!" I almost started laughing because it made me think of Indiana Jones demanding everyone's papers on the zeppelin from "Last Crusade" - but of course it's a bad idea to laugh at the IDF. Anyway, I gave him my passport, but the lady didn't have hers so she got hauled off the bus. She was really scared because they left her grandson on the bus, but thankfully a Palestinian woman from Jerusalem promised to get him home. When we pulled away the elderly woman was walking back up the road in the direction in which we came.
I made many new friends today at the Red Crescent - I met with their public relations coordinator and with their volunteers coordinator - everyone was incredibly gracious and their facilities were absolutely beautiful. I've also been reading Mitri Raheb's book, "Bethlehem Besieged" during the long bus rides. Rev. Raheb is a really fantastic author and his stories from the 2002 incursion into Beit'Lehem and the siege of the Church of the Nativity are gripping - especially because I can often look out the window and see the precise places he is describing in his work. I hope to meet him soon.
It looks like we're making progress on the playground - due to difficulties shipping playgrounds into the OPT we may go with a local contractor, but we're examining a site near the city of Jenin in the north. I may spend a week up there next month overseeing its construction if we decide to move forward with it.
Ambulances, playgrounds, checkpoints, and the Church of the Nativity. Tons of stuff on my mind right now. I think I'm going to really enjoy working here.
Peace to all of you.